Suddenly, a phone call I got 13 1/2 years ago makes sense.
Today’s post was going to be about the big atheist billboard in Times Square, and it was going to be sarcastic. Today is different now than it was this morning. With 11 days to go before Christmas, a disturbed person in Connecticut has made good hearts everywhere heavy and sad, made devout hearts everywhere question their beliefs, and made peaceful hearts everywhere sad and mad at the same time.
Why am I talking about such a big event on a blog that’s read by a dozen people on a good day, with 10 of them stumbling by accidentally? Why shout from a non-platform? It’s actually quite appropriate, because today I feel helpless and small.
Unfortunately, it seems like this story gets replayed every few years. Among others, there was Jonesboro, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and today Sandy Hook Elementary School. I had a brother attending Virginia Tech in 2007, which is the closest I’ve been to having a personal stake in any of these.
Today’s shooting actually made me think back to Columbine, though. That night, while sitting in my dorm room at UMass, I got a call from my Mom. I knew about how horrible that day’s shooting was, but getting a call that night seemed a bit odd. She must have been shaken up more than she let on, I reasoned at the time.
I get it now.
Today’s shooting is not the first school shooting since I became a Dad. But Sandy Hook is unmatched in human toll since Virginia Tech, and the children in that school were just a few years older than my daughters – short years which I know will fly by.
In 2007, by the time I heard anything about Virginia Tech, my brother was safe and sound in his off-campus apartment; the threat was apparently over. The massacre in Connecticut makes me worry – not about today, but about tomorrow. I want to go home, bolt the doors, and huddle with my family. No one goes outside anymore. The End.
That’s not realistic; my little girls are going to get bigger every day and they are inevitably going to go to school. And with that realization comes the next logical thought about these two little souls were entrusted to me and my wife: “Oh, my God. I can’t protect them.”
Naturally, we all grieve for the families of the victims. Yes, we feel a mix of anger and confusion directed toward the apparently deceased gunman. And if we are completely honest, surely we have wondered to ourselves why God would let this happen. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, though, I see something else. “I can’t hold my babies tight enough tonight,” said a high school classmate. “Giving extra kisses to my baby today,” said a college friend. The sentiment has been echoed by former softball teammates, ex-colleagues, clients, and others I’ve met in various walks of life. The only common threads are our children and our fear for them.
Suddenly, I know why Mom and Dad were so worried. Today is heartbreaking. But tomorrow is terrifying.